Samsung’s Dirty Little SecretBy Sean Sullivan
Look around your house, and no doubt you will find a Samsung product. Televisions, radios, cell phones, Samsung went from the little company that could to the conglomerate that went everywhere. As we approach Worker’s Memorial Day and May Day we wish we could tell you a story how fairly Samsung treats its workers.
Sadly, that’s just not the case. Far from it. While we are not sure what actually takes place at Samsung’s semiconductor manufacturing lines (because Samsung doesn’t allow photographs in its semiconductor unit) we do know that too many workers are dying.
The families and friends of electronics manufacturing workers at Samsung in Korea have discovered a cancer cluster among young workers exposed to toxic chemicals. Last month was the 3rd anniversary of the death of Yu-mi Hwang, a Samsung semiconductor factory worker, who died from leukemia at age 22. Since then Samsung has stonewalled. That episode of cancer was unrelated to their site they say. That rare episode of cancer, the miscarriage in the worker that came next and the leukemia in the worker that came after that, all from the same work station and all the other leukemia sufferers, 10 deaths there as well-still unrelated according to Samsung. Not so fast. Yu-mi – and similar coworker deaths – have motivated people to demand that Samsung:
1) accept responsibility for the hazards of semiconductor manufacturing;
2) compensate those harmed; and
3) prevent future suffering and mistreatment of workers by making Samsung a toxics-free model workplace where workers are treated with dignity and respect.
Samsung denies all responsibility, and the Korean government has taken its side by denying compensation and even arresting and detaining the victims’ lawyer! Yu-mi’s family, co-workers, friends and other concerned people have formed SHARPS (Supporters for the Health And Rights of People in the Semiconductor industry) to demand justice for the dead and safer conditions for the workers who make our electronic gadgets.
We are joining with SHARPS and our friends at the Electronics Take Back Coalition to demand that Samsung and the government take action. To join the Center for Environmental Health in demanding Samsung help these suffering families and prevent future worker deaths, click here.